Sleepless in Cedar Meadows: A Wolf-Watching Experience in Timmins

I stayed in a glass cabin surrounded by wolves in Timmins, Ontario. Here's what it was like.
a grey wolf at night, its head held low, looking straight into the camera.

I stepped into the Wolf Cabin’s glass bedroom, and my eyes locked onto Luna’s prone form; her white coat shone in the sunlight. She had been napping through the midday heat, but taking notice of my sudden reappearance, Luna trotted away and laid down to observe me from a distance.

A white wolf relaxing on its belly in green grass, licking its lips.
Luna yawns, a classic way that canines relieve themselves of stress. // Photo credit Heidi Csernak

What a way to start a wolf-watching experience! However, before we continue, I need to rewind a bit before I get too far ahead in my story:

I travel to Northeastern Ontario yearly and had no plans in mind for this summer’s trip to The Seven.

So when Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa invited me to experience Sleeping with the Wolves, I couldn’t refuse, and I was booked in for a mid-June visit.

I took a few days to explore Timmins’ trails, mining history and food scene, building up the anticipation. When I arrived at Cedar Meadows midweek, I was more than ready to relax and have a sleepless night with the wolves. 

The front entrance of the Cedar Meadows Resort; a large opulent building with a covered entrance with antlers mounted above it. The grounds are landacaped with rock and cedar.
SPOILER ALERT: staying at this resort was worth the 10-hour drive to Timmins. //  Photo credit Heidi Csernak

I couldn’t have been more excited.

After checking in and being given a tour of the spa facilities, I met Richard Lafleur, owner of family-run Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa. I followed his truck to Wolf Cabin 309, and after giving me a quick tour of the amenities, Richard left me to my wolf experience.

A cabin at Cedar Meadows; a small tidy cabin with a high peaked roof and wooden rafters and deck railings on a neatly mowed green lawn. A detailed black iron decoration of a wolf head adorning a light green door, with the number 309 below.
Outside the Wolf Cabin 309, the second to last of five cabins set on the wolf enclosure. Under the covered porch is outdoor seating and a newly installed gas BBQ. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

Inside the cabin, I couldn’t help but notice how bright and airy it felt with the high ceilings and exposed local lumber beams. A captivating painting of wolf eyes by artist (and chef) Marie-Claire LaFleur-Gagnon hung over the pullout couch, and my favourite MCLG piece, the wolf with red riding hood, adorning another wall.

Hidden behind a sliding door was a simple yet luxurious bathroom with a rain shower that called my name and promised to massage away any lingering tightness in my muscles.

The dining table was set with dishes, reminding me of my hunger—and the local food charcuterie board I would assemble with too much food for one person. A little kitchenette with a coffee maker, mini fridge, microwave, and sink would simplify food prep and cleanup!

The inside of the cabin at Cedar Meadows, comfortably furnished with a large sofa, chair, and a large painting on one wall of a wolf's eyes in blue tones.
Bright, inviting and cozy are all descriptive words that came to mind as I stepped into the Wolf Cabin. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

The Wolf Cabin's Glass Bedroom

The Wolf Cabin’s spectacular glass bedroom was steps past the kitchenette and closet. Two swivel chairs and soft pillows were by the windows. It was the perfect spot to spin about to watch the wolves in any direction without craning my neck.

Later, when it became too dark for photography with my camera, I could relax on the remote-controlled, adjustable bed, tilting it to my preferred wolf-watching angles and comfort.

There was no need to pile up pillows at my back to enjoy this experience.

The bedroom of the cabin at Cedar Meadows; a large luxurious bed in the center of a room with glass walls and ceiling, looking out into the wolf enclosure. The corner of the bedroom at Cedar Meadows, showing an armchair in the corner of a glass room framed by wooden beams with morning sunlight streaming in. On the other side of the glass, a wolf is casually sniffing at the ground with sunlight shining through its fur.
The triple-pane windows are heated, so you’ll have crystal-clear views of the skies above in the winter—and there’s in-floor heating for added comfort during the cold nights. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

I spent an hour watching the other wolves conserve their energy while the sun still hung high in the sky, blasting heat. It was my first time experiencing Timmins' long summer days, and it was the same for the pack—they had come to Cedar Meadows from a southern Ontario zoo where they spent the winter. 

They have ten areas to roam, with open grassy areas, forests, and a one-acre pond, which non-Wolf Cabin guests can view when passing the road-facing fence line.

A grey wolf calmly trotting along in the shade in front of lush green grass and fluffy seeding dandelions. a grey wolf leaning its head low to sniff, patrolling their territory.
Except for the Alpha female, Raven, who went on routine patrols (leaving the demands of her growing wolf cubs to another wolf), there was very little other activity to observe. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

Most of the wolves in view were napping, so I left my watch for a luxury shower before assembling a charcuterie board dinner from my food purchases earlier in the day.

Once refreshed, I readied my food platters and reached for the cold brews I had picked up from Full Beard Brewing but couldn’t find them. I triple-checked my vehicle, the cooler, and the fridge before calling the brewery to verify I had left them behind.

a charcuterie board of meats and cheeses and a sliced sandwich on a cheese roll, with a small bowl of greek salad and a row of 3 cans of beer in different flavours.
Using my Charcuterie Circuit blog for inspiration, I went to Hollinger House Bakery and Deli for samosas and sausage rolls, picked up a Mufelatta sandwich and salad from Pick of the Crop, cheese croissant from Golden Crust Bakery, assorted meats from Dabrowski’s Smoked Meats plus Fromage Kapuskoise cheese curds, and brews from Full Beard Brewing. // Photo credit Heidi Csernak

I sheepishly asked, "is anyone headed this way"? They had kindly packed one extra can for me to enjoy on this sweltering day. I teared up. Thank you so much for bringing them to me!

I planned to photograph the food board with wolves in the background, but the canids weren’t cooperating. I wrapped up my dinner and dessert photoshoot at the dining table, then settled in to eat, enjoy my stay, and watch the wolves.

an arrangement of cookies, pastries and colourful macarons next to a cup of coffee.
Using my Searching for Treats in Timmins blog as a guide, I hit the bakeries for goodies: sticky buns, blueberry pastries, and assorted cookies from Hollinger House Bakery, plus macarons from Golden Crust Bakery. There were so many desserts at Pick of the Crop, from in-house baked goods to local favourite Vicky D’Amour’s delicious creations, that I was overwhelmed by their sweets selection. I left Pick of the Crop with only my Mufelatta sandwich (delicious!) and salad for my main board. In the end, I had more than enough treats. // Photo credit Heidi Csernak

Now, onto the meat and bones of the story: my observations from Cabin 309.

Wolf Watching from Cabin 309

The pack hierarchy was observable. Starting with Cabin 310—they have the closest view of where the wolves come to feed (this location may change) and where the wolf cubs come out to play. The dominant wolves spent most of their time in the open nearest my cabin, 309, and next door at 310.

two fluffy little wolf pups standing in tall green grass.
I  was lucky to spot two wolf cubs coming out and playing briefly. // Photo credit Heidi Csernak

I monitored the wolves in front of the cabins from my glass-walled bedroom.

Luna’s chosen area to sleep in during the day was in my backyard. There was a noticeable depression in the ground where she would curl up and sleep the night.

Cabin 308 also had a good view of the wolves, including those settling in the front of the neighbouring cabins and a direct line of sight down a heavily trafficked entrance into the woods.

I watched a wolf coming out of the forest and trotting past the wolves from 310 to 308 before cutting back into the woods on a continuous patrol. I couldn’t easily tell the grey wolves apart, but the body language of a dominant wolf in the pack was apparent even at a distance, especially when they would pass the dark-furred wolves by 306 and 307.

a grey wolf trotting along with their nose to the ground, patrolling their enclosure. a grey wolf standing in tall shaded grass, with its head raised and looking intently at something in the distance
Wolves on patrol, or is it the same wolf? It’s difficult for my untrained eyes to spot the differences between the similarly coloured grey wolves. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

Cabins 307 and 306 usually had two-year-old dark-coloured wolves, (m) Diesel and (f) Storm, in view. Their behaviours and distance from the feeding area indicated that the pair were among the lowest ranks in the wolf pack.

Should the young dark male, Diesel, be anywhere near a dominant wolf, he would turn with his already-tucked tail and give the more dominant male a lot of space or hang his head, signalling he’s not a threat.

a grey wolf walks by while two others lay flat on their bellies in the grass to show submissiveness. Two sitting wolves lowering their heads to another wolf.
Photo on the left: Diesel (pictured right), showing signs of submission while the female, Stormy (middle), has her ears perked forward as a dominant gray wolf (pictured left) trots past the younger pair of wolves in the forefront. Photo on the right: Diesel being submissive (head hanging, pictured in the middle) as Smoke walks down the path (out of focus) on the right. Storm has her ears back and is lying down on the far left. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

At a few points during my stay, I counted eight wolves, with the highest count happening around feeding time. Unlike the submissive wolves, Alphas Bear and Raven don’t sneak away with a mouthful of food, so even though they ate first, I didn’t witness it.

I watched the wolves biding their time as each pack member waited for their turn—and permission from the Alpha(s)—to move forward and grab some food.

A black and a grey wolf standing in tall green grass, looking at something in the distance. 4 wolves lounging in the green grass in their enclosure, looking in the same direction at something in the distance. Two wolves walking up with their heads lowered to communicate with one that is lying on its belly in the grass with its head up.
Photo on the left: Two wolves watch the feeding area, waiting for their turn. Middle photo: The group of wolves waiting is growing in numbers. Photo on the right: Two wolves return from their meal while two others are still waiting. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

Finally, it was Luna’s turn to grab a morsel.

First, she took a small piece and then returned for more.

Then Diesel, tail tucked, crept forward, looking for an opportunity to grab a mouthful from Luna. Then, one of the grey males came, taking the meat from Luna while Diesel kept his distance.

A wolf watches from a distance while two others go for food. A wolf calmy pulling at a piece of meat. a wolf looking intently at the other wolves while they eat. a wolf approaching another that is lying on its belly, eating. A black wolf with a ruffled, shedding coat.
Photo #1: Luna waits for her turn. Photo #2: Luna eats her first morsel. Photo #3: Diesel sees a chance to grab a bite. Photo #4 and #5: The submissive, Diesel, makes his way closer. He looked well-fed despite his dishevelled appearance from shedding his winter coat. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

After their meals, the wolves settled down for post-dinner naps, but once the sun dipped below the tree line, the temperature started to drop, the air cooled off, and the pack started to get active.

In the gathering darkness, the wolves displayed behaviours mirrored in our canine companions at home: snapping at biting bugs, rolling in the dirt, greeting each other, and licking mouths to show submission.

Other pack members held their tails high and rigid while doing stiff-legged walks and then sprang into a chase around the open areas.

A tan and white wolf walking with head held low through tall grass mixed with fluffy seeding dandelions. three light grey wolves relaxing together in tall green grass at dusk.
The golden hour comes late in the evening in Timmins; during my June visit to the north, the days were almost 16 hours long. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

The cabin’s guests started turning their spotlights on while the wolves continued to play, running in and out of the deepening shadows until they looked like grey blurs.

Eventually, the wolves wandered off to their spots, whether in the forest or the front of the cabins, like Luna, who’d settled in ‘my backyard’ for the night. I searched the treeline for activity, staring into the darkness and seeing nothing staring back.

The other cabin’s spotlights turned off one by one until mine was the only light on.

The wolves had gone quiet. Perhaps it was time to call it a night.

a white wolf walking with head held low across a rocky area. A white wolf sleeping in the grass at sunset.
Blended exposure: Luna napping in the foreground as the sun sets. // Photo credits Heidi Csernak

I must have drifted off because I came awake with a start—the pack was howling at 3 a.m., and Luna was joining the chorus right next to my window.

The guests to my right and left turned on their outdoor lights simultaneously, and the wolves fell silent. When the spotlights eventually went out and ten minutes later, the wolves sang for just a few more minutes.

I hadn’t moved the entire time, but now I slowly reached out to turn on my camera, hoping the microphone would pick up their howls.

I drifted off after the wolves quieted. Let me assure you, morning came too soon.

a white wolf curled up in the grass, asleep in the dim light.
Luna curled up for a nap in her spot by the fence. This photo was taken earlier in the evening after her meal. // Photo credit Heidi Csernak

The wolves had woken up early (well before me, I’m sure) to take advantage of the cool temperatures before the day's heat started beating down on them. Not one wolf stayed in sight for more than a few minutes.

I made coffee and ate leftover pastries, cheese, and meat for breakfast, packing up as I puttered around and peeked out the windows for my last glimpses of the wolves.

A white wolf walks lazily with eyes closed across the grassy enclosure in the sun.
On check-out day, the temperature was soaring by mid-morning, so Luna and the other wolves returned after their morning explorations and settled in the open grassy area, where they rested through the hottest part of the day. // Photo credit Heidi Csernak

For folks in the north who spend time in the wilderness, seeing wolves can be a common occurrence as these canids are curious creatures. However, for others like me, the closest wolves are either in Algonquin Park or Haliburton Wolf Preserve—neither of which can guarantee a sighting.

During my one-night stay, I saw eight wolves and two wolf cubs. I’d guess that seeing wolves at Cedar Meadows is practically a given on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A closeup of a black and tan wolf laying in the grass with its head on the ground, its yellow eyes looking into the camera.
Staring into Myloo’s eyes (or is it Smoke?), I didn’t feel fear but a mutual curiosity. However, I was happy to be behind the protection of glass. The wolves may be from a zoo and habituated to people, but they are still wild and unpredictable. // Photo credit Heidi Csernak

My time at the resort wasn’t over; I would stay another night (or two) to relax and rejuvenate at the Nordic Spas and eat onsite at the Voyageur Restaurant. I also had the Wildlife Tour to look forward to, where I saw the resident elk, bison, fallow deer, and bald eagles that hunt in the park.

I assure you, I will always remember this destination and intend to return to it as soon as possible.

A large wooden sign with green painted posts that reads "Cedar Meadows Resort", with large rock landscaping around it. A luxurious oval outdoor pool at Cedar Meadows, with clear blue water and beautiful flowers beds and trees around the pool deck. The sky above is a clear sunny blue.
Spa seating at Cedar Meadows; four tiers of cushioned wooden seating benches with wooden stairs up the center, with two large skylights overhead looking out at the night sky. a bright sunny spa room at Cedar Meadows, decorated with indoor plants and statues, with lounge and armchairs looking out a wall of large sunny windows.
a caesar salad with sliced chicken and a lemon wedge on a white plate. eggs benedict with bacon on a white plate toasted pita and a baked brie topped with tomatoes and herbs on an white oval plate. A burger on a white square plate, garnished with two green olives and a side of fries.
About Heidi Csernak

Heidi is a nature photographer who fell in love with Northeastern Ontario’s wild charms after her first time exploring the region. She likes to wander the trails at a snail’s pace, enjoys birdwatching, and lets the current carry her kayak to watch the scenery passing by. Fun Fact: Heidi has an insatiable hunger for hamburgers.

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